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Disparaging Gladwell? … on Brand Autopsy?

Brand Autopsy has given lots of digital ink to Malcolm Gladwell.

Okay … it goes beyond giving him digital ink to outright pimpin’ Gladwell. [Brand Autopsy Pimp One. Brand Autopsy Pimp Two. Brand Autopsy Pimp Three.]

When pimping Gladwell’s take on Big Pharma from an October 2004 New Yorker article, I received some grief in the comments section.

Now, I never officially supported Gladwell’s assertion that higher prescription drug prices may be a result of how we, as a society, have become more aggressive in the treatment of diseases and we are spending more on drugs because we are using more drugs. I merely highlighted another side to the story … a story I found to be unconventional and thought-provoking.

Recently I read in BRANDWEEK magazine that Gladwell may have had a conflict of interest. (Ugh.) His business guru status has led Gladwell to being paid by pharmaceutical companies to deliver speeches to the drug industry. Jim Edwards of BRANDWEEK writes,

Not every media outlet has blamed Big Pharma and its marketing for the high cost of drugs. One of the more sympathetic articles, published last October by The New Yorker, was penned by Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point.

The piece did not mention, however, that Gladwell has been paid by pharmaceutical companies on numerous occasions in recent years to give speeches on his marketing theories. Gladwell denied a conflict of interest. He says he has previously disclosed giving the speeches, and has not advocated a position that supports Big Pharma’s interests.

“Did [my actions] create a bias in favor of the pharmaceutical industry?” he writes on his web site, gladwell.com. “The evidence is for all to see.”

I’m not sure the evidence is definitive enough for all to believe. Maybe it is because Gladwell is such a compelling writer that I believed his take on high drug prices went beyond being just an article … to being his belief.

Great writers can make us believe they believe. Dig?

4 Comments

  • If I Pay You“Once you buy someone, he stays bought.”

  • Mike Smock says:

    Getting paid to speak to the pharma industry AND believing that higher drug prices are the result of more aggressive treatments are not necessarily conflicting issues. His comments on the reason why drug prices are rising are quite Gladwellian.It’s his explanation that seems less than genuine…

  • Tom Asacker says:

    I’ve always liked your style at Brand Autopsy, but now I’m also a fan of your substance. Kudos on the post. It fits your brand, for isn’t an autopsy a critical assessment after the fact? Stay passionate . . . and skeptical!

  • He sure is a great writer.But not being immortal has seemingly leadhim to where the bigbucks are.Wondering wether i would have the strength to withstand renting out my talents.It´s the american dream after all, isnt it?( achieving wealth by prostituion, then dominating other people with it )…loved his book though…Greetz from Hamburg, Germany,- Weltregierung.